Session Summary: Raising the Bar: Towards a New EU-US Digital Agenda

Frances G. Burwell, Senior Director, McLarty Associates Washington, D.C.

Marta Poslad, Head of CEE & Transatlantic Public Policy, Google Warsaw

Anna Fielder, President, European Digital Rights, Brussels

Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, Vice-Chair, International Trade Committee, European Parliament

Led by: Tyson Barker, Head, Technology and Global Affairs, German Council on Foreign Relations, Berlin

 

The debate on establishing a new EU-US data agenda centred around various topics connected to digital infrastructure, machine learning, tech regulation, digital policy and artificial intelligence. Owing to the ongoing EU-US summit, where US President Biden is meeting with the leaders of the EU to discuss exactly these issues, a mirrored discussion on this year’s GLOBSEC2021 forum is highly relevant. This debate focused on tackling topics that the leaders should be discussing at the EU-US summit as well. The all-female panel of experts mainly focused on the transatlantic relationship between the US and EU and the strategic interdependence, in terms of the digital agenda, between both actors.  

The panelists covered what main priorities of the Transatlantic Trade and Tech Council should be. According to Frances G. Burwell, the number one priority should be putting these topics into a more prominent place in the agenda. The transatlantic market for data is substantial, so it is important to address it in a sustained, continuous manner and get policymakers to actually talk about these things. According to Burwell, the suspected priorities will be more resilient infrastructure and cybersecurity standards. These are priorities that both the US and the EU deem vital in their digital economies. Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou agreed by stating that the council should focus on AI, cyber standards across the board, and quantum computing. She also emphasized the trade aspect of the council, where the focus should rest on supply chains.  

Anna Fielder agreed with what was previously said and focused on the need to address data flows and privacy shields. According to Fielder, the only long term solution is for the US to modify surveillance laws and practices. She stresses the need for effective federal level privacy legislation.  

The debate further focused on digital sovereignty, a concept that has gathered a lot of traction in public discourse over the past few years. The panellists have rather stressed the need for strategic interdependence rather than sovereignty in the digital sphere. Of course, who creates the rules will hold all the power in the future and increase its geopolitical influence. This begs the question: who will create those rules? Asimakopoulou suggests that if the EU-US union would do so, it would resolve these issues and inspire others to do so as well.